The NY Sun is reporting that the Parks Department spends $1,100 each time it plants a sapling in New York City. That is exponentially higher than the cost to plant trees in other locales, and it’s $400 more than NYC itself was paying just four years ago.
The reason for the astronomical price hike is no mystery: Comptroller William Thompson (who aspires to be our next mayor) unilaterally decided in 2003 to raise the pay of tree planters more than threefold, from $15 an hour to $55.
Even the landscapers themselves are baffled by the reclassification of an unskilled job:
“We got lumped into the laborer category, but we’re landscapers,” Mr. DeBartoli [owner of Robert Bello Landscaping] said. “We don’t come out with cranes and all kinds of fancy equipment. We come out and dig a hole and plant a tree and put stones around it.”
Also adding to the high cost is the fact that the city now requires landscapers to guarantee their trees againt vandalism for the first two years after planting. Why should the landscaper be on the hook if someone damages a tree after the job is done? It’s a mystery to everyone but the geniuses at City Hall.